Spate of counterfeit alcohol incidents highlight dangers

Poisonous vodkaSeveral incidents involving illicit alcoholic beverages - including one which killed more than 40 people - have been reported in recent weeks.

In India, tainted alcohol sold through a single shop in Adampur, Uttar Pradesh, killed 42 people and left another 50 seriously ill in hospital towards the end of October, with a number of those injured by the bootleg liquor losing their sight. Blindness is a common form of injury caused when illicit alcohol is contaminated- sometimes deliberately - with methanol.  The incident is reminiscent of a case last year involving counterfeit vodka in the Czech Republic. The high number of deaths resulted from the liquor being distributed for consumption during a religious festival.

Police in Russia have detected a massive supply of counterfeit alcohol entering the Moscow region, according to an Interfax news report citing the country's Interior Ministry. Enforcement activity has closed down one warehouse where the illicit liquor was stored, with police finding 250,000 bottles being passed off as "well-known Russian and foreign brands", along with more than 200,000 fake excise stamps, kegs of alcohol-containing liquid and flavourings. In August, the Russian authorities said they had seized 500,000 bottles of counterfeit alcohol in the Moscow region.

Two men have been jailed in the UK for avoiding around £6.4m ($10.3m) in tax by selling huge quantities of illegally diverted and counterfeit wine, beer and spirits. The operation run by Inderjit Singh Mangher (30) and his brother Amandeep (27) was discovered after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) raid on their premises in Scunthorpe. "They had attempted to disguise their illegal activities by covering genuine labels on the back of the bottles of vodka and whiskey with counterfeits.

Around eight million litres of counterfeit alcohol have been seized in Kazakhstan over the past two years, according to the country's Minister of Finance Bolat Zhamishev.  The country also has a major problem with fake and substandard food products, destroying some 400 tonnes of unsafe products - including counterfeit meat and dairy products - in the first half of the year.

Police in Scotland have intercepted around 13,000 litres of counterfeit alcohol worth an estimated £263,000 in lost duty and taxes - from a shipping trailer en route from Northern Ireland. The haul included 6 pallets of illicit vodka bottles and counterfeit labels, and was seized by HMRC officers at Cairnryan. A spokesman for HMRC said the illicit trade in alcohol costs UK taxpayers an estimated £1.2bn in unpaid revenue each year.

Kenya has decided to switch from physical to digitally-activated tax stamps in a bid to drive counterfeit alcohol and tobacco products out of the market, says the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). "No tobacco products, wines and spirituous beverages should be released to the market from November 5 without activated excise stamps," said the KRA in a statement. Manufactures and distributors estimate they are losing closing to 70 billion shillings ($820m) to substandard and potentially hazardous goods, according to a report in The Star newspaper.

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top